Meet Our Newest Team Member!

20160525_085508Youth Odyssey is always busy and trying to capitalize on our resources in order to best serve the Coastal Bend area. One way we have done this is by hiring another program facilitator to accommodate then growing need for our programs. His name is Jesse Duenes.

Jesse has been part of our team for about a month now and I recently sat down with him to discuss what motivated him to apply for the position.

According to Jesse, he has always wanted to be of service to his community and give back to a program that helped at-risk youth. He was searching for community-oriented jobs when he came across our Youth Odyssey job posting. Jesse did some research before applying and  was “pretty impressed with the organization and knew it was something [he] wanted to be a part of.” He expressed that what he found the most interesting about Youth Odyssey’s mission is the unique way we combine life skills work with adventure programming. The idea of being able to “mentor youth and do fun, cool stuff at the same time” was too much to pass up. Since he likes the outdoors and has admitted to being a bit of a kid himself, working with Youth Odyssey “just made sense.”

2194711710940As previously mentioned, Jesse has been working with us for about a month and it’s obvious he loved the idea of Youth Odyssey before he started, but I wanted to know what his favorite part has been during his short time with us. In his own words,”the best part about working for Youth Odyssey has been the ability to work with the youth-mentors.” Due to his training in leadership, Jesse has learned that those you are in charge of are a direct reflection of the leadership. He has enjoyed giving them leadership pointers and has also learned that, since “mentors have awesome attitudes,” they really encourage others to have fun as well. Having fun is a goal and part of the key to Youth Odyssey’s success. Growing up as an at-risk youth himself between his mother’s home in Corpus Christi and his father’s home in Houston, he dropped out of high school. Several years later, Jesse received his GED and enlisted in the United States Army in 1998. Because of Jesse’s previous experience in law enforcement, he dealt a lot with youth who had made poor choices due to lack of essential life skills and boredom (nothing else to do). Jesse had been through so many physical, emotional, and social obstacles as a kid, and they made him feel like a prisoner to his surroundings. He hopes, through the medium Youth Odyssey provides, to be a fitting example to Youth Odyssey participants that no matter what obstacles stand before them, they can be overcome.

20160616_200359With his experience serving as a Military Police Sergeant in the U.S. Army, we have faith that Jesse will be able to accomplish his goal. In addition, as a young Soldier it was ingrained in Jesse to focus on learning teamwork, communication, problem-solving, trust, goal-setting, and leadership in order to get through situations. Furthermore, as a Sergeant, Jesse spent a lot of years training the future leaders of the Army; and still mentors a handful of young men to this day. Combine all his experience with Youth Odyssey’s mission and I think we could have a winning combination.

We are excited to see what happens with our programs and how well Jesse will mesh with our youth and initiatives. He has survived two summer camps and is leading his own programs already, even though he hasn’t been with us long, so that is a great sign. The kids and mentors respond well to his ideas and input and we can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  Please join us in welcoming Jesse to the Youth Odyssey family!